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ICC Twenty20: Horrific start means Ireland's World is turned on head

By Ian Callender

Published 10/03/2016

Field day: Paul Stirling fields for Ireland yesterday but to no avail as his side slipped to a shock opening defeat against Oman in the World Twenty20 in Dharmsala, India
Field day: Paul Stirling fields for Ireland yesterday but to no avail as his side slipped to a shock opening defeat against Oman in the World Twenty20 in Dharmsala, India
Oman

William Porterfield's demand that Ireland win all three group matches to reach the Super 10 stage of the World Twenty20 has been instantly revised after a horror start to their eighth global event.

A two-wicket defeat to Oman continues Ireland's downward trend in the shortest format and follows losses to Papua New Guinea and UAE in the recent series in Australia and Abu Dhabi.

They were described as "one-offs" - but are now becoming a worrying habit.

When Ireland took three wickets in the space of nine balls to reduce Oman, chasing 155 for victory, to 90 for five with just six overs remaining there looked to be only one winner.

Then the wheels came off as Porterfield chose to replace Andy McBrine, who had just taken two wickets, with Paul Stirling, his second spinner after George Dockrell was left off the starting XI.

Stirling conceded 11 runs in the over, Tim Murtagh's recall proving a nightmare for the Middlesex paceman as he started the 17th over with a no-ball, bowled two wides and the three extra balls were all crashed to the boundary.

At the start of the last over, Oman's target was still 14 but again Porterfield ignored his best bowler, McBrine, and handed the ball to Max Sorensen whose previous delivery had been hit for six.

A horrible chest high yorker was pulled to the mid-wicket boundary, the next ball actually bowled Amir but because it was a 'free hit' they ran a bye and although Sorensen got lucky and earned a caught behind decision against Amir three balls later, his first ball to the new batsman was another above waist-high delivery which went through Niall O'Brien's legs for the runs which sparked wild celebrations in the Oman camp.

It was the most unlikely of victories on their World T20 debut.

One person who did not deserve to be on the losing side was Gary Wilson who produced a stunning piece of fielding to save five runs, throwing himself backwards on the mid-wicket boundary to haul the ball back into play and stop the six.

It should have been the difference between winning and losing the match because it left Oman still requiring 21 from 14 balls.

Boyd Rankin, in his first World Cup match since he declared for England in 2012 - he also bowled only three overs - maintained the Ireland momentum with a superb 19th over when he took a wicket and conceded just four singles.

Both Porterfield and Stirling were dismissed for 29 and Wilson for the second successive game top scored with 38.

Bangladesh won the first game of the day, defending 153 against the Netherlands, and Ireland now know tomorrow's game against the Tigers is, literally, win or bust.

"I backed the seamers at the death but two big overs cost us," said Porterfield.

"Now we have to get it right on Friday, but that's more a mental thing.

"Last time two wins would have taken us through on run-rate and it can happen again unless Oman win their two remaining games.

"If they do that, they fully deserve to go through. The dew was a little slippery but we're not going to use that as an excuse."

Oman's man of the match Aamer Ali hailed the preparations.

"We've done a lot of hard work before coming to the World Cup, and finally it has paid off," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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